Friday, April 29, 2011

Why I Will Survive an Alien Attack

by Rachel Brady

I confessed a strange behavior to a friend this week, and rather than receive the mockery I expected, I was shocked to learn that my bizarre activity was not unique. This has inspired me to publicly embarrass myself so that I might poll the Stiletto Faithful. Maybe it's true. Maybe we are not alone...

Lately I've been tracking my spending and noticing that, rent and utilities aside, my biggest expenses are childcare and groceries, with fuel a close third.

Sometimes I try to see how many days in a row I can go without buying something. It makes me stop and reflect on whether what I'm buying is a want or a need. Most things are wants, and when I don't buy them I excel at my private game. Sometimes I can make it a whole week without buying so much as a stamp. (Not often.)

But groceries are needs.

Or are they?

Enter my other game, Alien Apocalypse. What if you were home right now and malevolent aliens landed in your town? You can't go out to Kroger's because they will either harm you or eat you or put you on the Mother Ship. You must subsist only on what is currently in your pantry, refigerator, and freezer. How long will you survive?

Trust this alien survivor. It's longer than you'd think.

Periodically I do this exercise to pare down my food inventory. Rather than buy fresh produce for the week, I'll eat through all my frozen veggies. You know the ones. Those bags in your freezer that you don't even see anymore because they have been there since 1994. When we run out of cereal, we eat through the eggs, toast, and oatmeal before I'll buy more breakfast foods. I look at meat in the freezer, rice in the pantry, and those two cans of tomato paste I bought when leg warmers were still in style and I start thinking about how to eat them as a meal. Shopping isn't allowed because it's not worth jeopardizing my safety by going outside. That only provokes them.

I don't mean to suggest that I'm on the steps of the poorhouse, so please no aid drops by helicopter. But I am something of a minimalist by choice and this approach of spending down my resources before bringing more into the house serves me well. It helps avoid clutter. Keeps things tidy. And it minimizes extraneous expenses.

So if any of those side effects appeal to you, before you head out to the store this weekend, see how many meals you can make first with the supplies you already have on hand.

If it comes down to you versus the neighbor in the Alien Apocalypse, you'll be all trained up. Bon appetite.

When this piece posts on Friday, I'll be schmoozing with aliens--I mean mystery writers--at the Malice Domestic Mystery Convention in Bethesda, Maryland. I'll check back to visit your comments as soon as I can. Enjoy your weekends!


  1. When a NASA employee talks about preparing for alien invasion, the smart reader gets the freakin hint!

  2. Rachel, I do that same thing--"let's eat through what we have before I go shopping again"--periodically. Even without worrying about aliens. Before I met Ed, he partially subsisted on MRIs ordered online. I'm not kidding. So we have a few of those, just in case (one I've seen downstairs on his desk for the past five-plus years is a cinnamon scone, which sounds nice). I love frozen organic veggies! So we always have tons of spinach and broccoli. And cereal, too. Though I'm hoping any aliens are friendly. If they're watching us now and witnessing the stupidity in politics, they're probably thinking it won't take much to topple things and take us over. I will be beholden to them forever if they'll promise to get rid of 90% of reality TV programming. ;-)

  3. Why not aliens? It's a jinormous (grandkids's word) universe out there. I like a well-stocked pantry just in case. tho am trying to combine trips to save gas.

  4. I had a Hungarian friend who told me Europeans who lived through WW II keep food stockpiled everywhere, in the attic, under the sofa, behind the books in the bookcase. Her mother could have fed the family for six months, maybe more, on what was in the house. I keep as much as I can protect from mice and meal moths. Water will be a problem in case of total social and economic collapse, as will electricity and gas.
    ...Aliens? Who's afraid of aliens?